By Gregory D. McCluney

Napa Valley: America’s Bordeaux Continues to Climb

Is there another Bordeaux? In America? Probably not, especially if you ask the
French.

But the famous Paris (blind) tasting of 1976 revealed, even with French judges,
that Napa wines could win the competition. This shocked the wine world, and
Napa and California wines have never been the same. What George Yount began
in 1839, still grows today. Despite its limited size—only 30 miles long—Napa
remains by far America’s foremost winemaking region.

Napa produces only 4 percent of California’s wine and, worldwide, far less than 1
percent. Land is so expensive, and standards so high, underperforming vines are
torn out and replaced. At $220,000 or more per acre (it seems a new record is set
every year), there’s little room for less popular varieties or mediocre fruit. It was
California’s first AVA and remains its most coveted.

Charles Krug established one of the first wineries in 1861, and soon others
followed, including the now-famous names Schramsberg, Beringer and Inglenook.
Today, more than 500 producing wineries blanket the valley, and the majority are
still family owned.

Today, Cabernet Sauvignon is king in Napa, whether ivalley-, hillside- or
mountain-grown, and accounts for 40 percent of the total wine produced in the
AVA.

The focus in Napa today is on quality, not yield per acre or quantity. The wines are
priced accordingly, with many passing the $100-per- bottle glass ceiling many
years ago.

Editors Note:
Mark your calendar for November 5 for a chance to taste just what drives
America’s most famous wine-making region. Vino Venue will pour a great
collection of some of Napa’s finest, paired with the appropriate California
cuisines. Whites as well as alternative reds will be poured to present a complete
picture of Napa today. Book online now for this once-a-year event.

by Gregory D. McCluney
Wine & Travel Editor